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Skijoring competitors hope to see sport in Olympics

By Paige Sedgewick, Reporter, psedgewick@kcfw.com
Published On: Feb 18 2014 02:25:57 PM MST
Updated On: Feb 18 2014 04:59:26 PM MST
WHITEFISH, Mont. -

A popular sport has been quite a hit in the Flathead area and other parts of the country. Skijoring made an appearance in the Olympic Games years ago and many participants are hoping it will come back again.

Scott Ping is the North American Skijoring Association President. He explained the steps for how to suit up a horse for a skijoring event.

During a competition a skier is pulled by a horse and rider. The skier must make it through a series of jumps and slalom gates while racing for time on either a straight or circular course.

"It's all a timed event and these rules were made up by the North American Skijoring Association who started it back in the late '90s," said Scott Ping.

Skijoring isn't a new sport, but it's one that's making a comeback in popularity.

"We kind of got together and said we ought to bring it back," said Ping.

That was 12 years ago. Now, the skijoring competition is a staple at the Whitefish Winter Carnival, and the number of competitions held annually across the west has grown to 20, with 76 teams, but Ping wants to see his sport get international attention.

"They have equestrian events for summer games but they don't have an equestrian event for the winter games," said Ping.

In 1928 skijoring debuted as demonstration sport at the 1928 Winter Games, but hasn't been featured since. Ping tells NBC Montana the sport would be a great fit for the Winter Olympics.

“I think it's a perfect shoo-in to be able to add a horse, another heartbeat to skiers and horse riders," said Ping.

The skijoring competition in Whitefish is the biggest skijoring race in North America.